Surfside Sally's, the popular but controversial nightclub in Fells Point, has closed. Its owners are searching for a new site in Baltimore for the pulsating nightspot.
But before Surfside Sally's could reopen elsewhere in the city, its owners would have to make peace with the liquor board.
The board revoked Surfside Sally's liquor license in June after months of complaints about fights, drunks and lewd behavior inside and outside the large nightclub in Brown's Wharf. It remained open nearly three months after appealing the liquor board's decision -- until closing Sunday.
"We were fighting an uphill battle," said Larry S. Spatz, president of the Chicago-based Heartthrob Management Inc., which owns Surfside Sally's and 13 other nightclubs or nightclub-restaurants around the country. "We decided it was in everybody's best interest that we spend our time and effort trying to relocate Sally's in Baltimore."
Spatz said Surfside Sally's would pursue the appeal of its license revocation in Circuit Court. If it wins, he said, it would like to transfer the license to Gordon's Crabhouse, which is operating the restaurant portion of what used to be Surfside Sally's.
Actually, Surfside Sally's was supposed to be a restaurant from the beginning. It opened in May 1989 with a liquor license requiring one-third of its sales to be food. Surfside Sally's seldom sold that much food, but it packed its nightclub.
RTC About five months ago Surfside Sally's management hired Gordon's Crabhouse to operate the first-floor restaurant. Mark Gordon, who manages the restaurant, said that business has been good and that he would like to remain at Brown's Wharf.
He also said he is considering opening some sort of restaurant or supper club on the second floor and perhaps offering entertainment and dancing -- "but something the community would be proud of," he said, "something for a more mature clientele."
He has discussed his plans with residents. Thomas C. Dolina, president of the Fells Point Homeowners Association, said his organization would like Gordon's Crabhouse to stay.
In case Surfside Sally's loses its appeal and does not regain its license, Gordon's Crabhouse has applied for its own liquor license, Gordon said.
And what would that do to Surfside Sally's chances of trying to relocate in Baltimore? "I assume it would make it very difficult," said Spatz.